Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
There are days in my life when the glass is half-full, but there are also days when it is half-empty. Then again, there are days when that glass is nothing but a pile of shattered glass and melting ice on the floor.
Whenever someone mentions the half-full/half-empty analogy, I am reminded of something that happened when I was fourteen years old. Mom sat us down at the kitchen table and told us, in a matter-of-fact tone, that the she had breast cancer. She explained the words chemotherapy, radiation, radical mastectomy.
There was nothing to say. Mom was nothing if not efficient, and she answered all of our questions before we asked them.
I was really young and stupid. I thought I could make it better with a dumb gesture. I went to the sink, half-filled a glass with water, and plunked it on the table in front of her, saying something like, “It’s half-full, Mom.”
There was, of course, much eye-rolling from my older sisters and deafening silence from my mother, and I mentally kicked myself for being such a moron. The incident was never mentioned again until nearly eight years later, when the cancer came back with a vengeance and Mom told me that my gesture had been a source of strength for her the first time around.
Ha. Score one for my inner optimist.
Life sucks sometimes. People get hurt and people die, and most of us suffer unbearable losses at one time or another. But the sun comes up the next day, and we drag our sorry asses out of bed, and we trudge through the next day to face the possibility of more pain, more loss, more heartache. Some nights, we cry ourselves to sleep and pray that tomorrow never comes, but that damn sun comes back again and again and hope keeps rising with it.
I could cry because I lost my mom at 21, or I can be thankful that I had her for eight bonus years. I can rage about losing Dad at 31, or I can thank God I had a chance to reconcile with him before his death. I can whine and wail about everything I lost on June 21, 2011, or I can be grateful for all of the miracles that kept my children and me alive when the tree fell on our van. Seriously, how many people survive something like that?
To be honest, I still struggle with that one. It’s one thing to be grateful; it’s another thing entirely to keep my chin up when I’m in too much pain to remember my own name, or when I have a flashback triggered by something stupid like thunder or a car wash or the color blue.
But overall, the glass has to be half-full.
If it isn’t, why are we here?